What’s the difference between a stylesheet and a style guide?

A stylesheet and a styleguide are two different things that serve different purposes on a website.

The stylesheet

A stylesheet is a file that contains CSS rules which dictate how the HTML elements on a webpage should look and behave.

  • A website needs a stylesheet in order to define the styles and layout of its content.
  • A stylesheet contains CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) rules that define how the HTML elements of a webpage should be displayed, including the fonts, colors, margins, padding, positioning, and other visual characteristics of the website.
  • It also ensures that the website has a consistent look and feel across all its pages, and saves time by allowing changes to be made to the styles in one place which then applies to all the pages.
  • By using a stylesheet, a website can achieve a consistent look and feel across its pages, making it easier for users to navigate and understand its content.
  • Additionally, using a stylesheet allows changes to be made to the styles of a website without having to modify each individual page manually. Instead, changes can be made to the stylesheet and they will be applied to all the pages that use it. This can save time and effort and make maintenance of the website easier in the long run.

Example of a stylesheet

  • This stylesheet defines basic styles for a website, including the font family, header, main content area, links, images, and footer.
  • It uses different CSS selectors to target specific elements on the page and applies different styles to them.
/* Define the font family for the whole website */
body {
  font-family: Arial, sans-serif;

/* Define the styles for the page header */
header {
  background-color: #333;
  color: #fff;
  padding: 10px;

/* Define the style for the main content area */
main {
  width: 80%;
  margin: auto;
  padding: 20px;

/* Define the style for links */
a {
  color: #333;
  text-decoration: none;

/* Define the styles for images */
img {
  max-width: 100%;
  height: auto;

/* Define the style for the website's footer */
footer {
  background-color: #333;
  color: #fff;
  padding: 10px;
  text-align: center;

The style guide

On the other hand, a style guide is a reference document that provides guidelines and standards for the visual and written components of a website.

  • These concepts include logos, typography, images, and tone of voice.
  • It helps to maintain consistency and ensures that everyone involved in creating content for the website follows the same guidelines.
  • The style guide provides a set of rules to follow, which helps to ensure that the website is presented in a cohesive way.

Example of a style guide


Logo colors

Website colors


Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Paragraph: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus This is a link mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu.

Quick notes

  • In summary, while both a stylesheet and a style guide are important for maintaining consistency and cohesiveness across a website, their purposes are different.
  • A stylesheet is used to define the styles of the elements on a page while a style guide provides guidelines for the visual design and voice of the website.
  • A style guide is a reference document that provides guidelines and standards for the visual and written components of a website.

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